When it’s Time to Consider Pet Euthanasia at Home
Deciding exactly when to have your ailing pet put to sleep requires more than just a checklist. As a part of your family, you will know your pet’s normal demeanour, energy levels, appetite and behaviour. Your vet cannot make the decision for you, but they are an invaluable resource you can contact to help with the decision-making process to know when the time is right based on your pet’s quality of life.
What is crucial is that we don’t hang on to a pet who is suffering for selfish reasons. It’s heartbreaking to let a beloved pet go but sometimes when they are suffering it can be the kindest thing we can do for them.
Some things to consider which may indicate it is time to consider in home pet euthanasia are:
- Your pet in constant pain than cannot be alleviated with pain relief or treatment
- Your pet is suffering from an incurable disease which has now caused the quality of life to deteriorate to the point where they no longer appear happy
- The treatment of their disease is no longer possible. For example an inoperable cancer or disease no longer responding to treatment. It may also be that finances are no longer available to continue treatment.
- Your pet has stopped eating, is consistently vomiting, unable to go to the toilet or other symptoms which indicate a poor quality of life for the future.
A caveat to this I want to point out is that you should not assume your pet’s condition is not treatable. Always consult a vet first to discuss your pet’s situation. Get all of the options first before making your final decision. For instance an old dog who is having difficulty walking may benefit from a different combination of medications that may give them a second wind and get them up and walking again.
To be present or not?
This is a very personal choice. Some people cannot bear the sight of their pet breathing their last breath. Others want to comfort their pet right up until the end and not be separated. Both are perfectly acceptable responses to the euthanasia process. There is no wrong way to go here.
One of the benefits of the way we perform an in home pet euthanasia is the fact that we use pre-euthanasia sedation. This has the benefit of relaxing your pet so that they are unaware of when the euthanasia event happens. They just slowly drift off into sleep. The added benefit is that some pet owners choose to stay for the 5-10 minutes while their pet becomes sedated so as to comfort their pets. But then when the pet is unaware of what is happening and the final euthanasia needle has to be give intravenously, they choose to step out of the room for this part.
An important part of the process is also to consider is if you would like children to be present if you have them, as well as other pets in the household.
Children and dealing with the loss of a pet
Children need time to say goodbye just as adults do. It may help to ease them into the process the days before the event. For many children, this may be their first encounter with the concept of a pet’s death.
Telling a child a pet ran away or had to be rehomed may lead to resentment later or feelings of abandonment. Honesty is usually the best policy here.
Children may not necessarily want to watch the process of euthanasia. But they may benefit from having the time to say goodbye to a pet beforehand, and if they choose, afterwards as well. In terms of if they want to see their pet after they have passed, we have found it best that they be asked what they want to do.
It is important to tend to their needs after a pet euthanasia. The grief process is a normal one. One that takes time and requires reassurance. Planting a tree or in some way memorialising the life of their companion animal can sometimes help this grieving process.
How do other pets in the household cope with loss?
After euthanasia, you may choose to let other pets in the household see the recently departed so they know what is going on.
Some people are surprised to find out that other pets in the household, particular ones with a tight bond to the deceased pet, are affected by the loss of their friend. It is not uncommon for a remaining pet to have a period of depression, sadness, lack of appetite or change of behaviour after a pet dies.
As with children, its important to console them, to occupy them and try to distract them. Taking them for walks, feeding a special treat and just giving them more time and attention can all help to get them back on track sooner rather than later.
As with people, the main thing that helps soften the blow of a lost pet is the passage of time.
Dealing with Grief
Individual people respond differently experiencing the loss of a pet after euthanasia. Besides sorrow, you may also experience the following emotions after pet loss:
I’ve often seen pet owners rack themselves with guilt, suggesting they could have done more, or could have gotten on top of their pet’s condition earlier. Even people who have done everything “right”. It is pointless to burden yourself with things that are often accidents or diseases beyond your control. Pet’s also can’t talk which sometimes makes it difficult to identify when an issue arises. Thinking this way will not change what has happened, and will only prolong your grief.
This emotion makes it hard to accept a pet is really gone. It’s hard to accept the loss of a pet, when you are so used to their everyday presence. Small things like the act of feeding them or their evening walk can become part of our daily routine. Some people may also find it hard to move on or to love another pet as a result.
Sometimes this can be direct toward the illness that claimed your pet, or in an accident, the driver of a vehicle or owner of another dog. It can also be directed to the veterinarian who in spite of doing everything they could for your pet weren’t able to save them. It is okay to be angry that an illness has claimed your pet, but try not to dwell on it for long, as it may only serve to prolong your grief.
This can be a normal part of the progression of the grief process. It’s one that usually only time will heal. If you find yourself in need of support be sure to seek help from your GP or support groups like lifeline.org.au.
Our friends at Pet Eden offer grief counselling for pet parents, as well as frequent pet loss support groups in Perth.
Grief is a normal response to the loss of a pet. So don’t bottle it up inside but express your grief so as to attempt to overcome it. The fact that we feel such sorrow is a testament to how great our pets really are and the bond we shared with them. We have to remember the reasons why we are so attached to them. All their unique features. The good times. The fond memories when they did something silly or made us laugh.
Find a place for them in your household where you can continue to remember them. You may wish to place their ashes and a photo of them on the mantle along with a candle and a paw print. Focus on the positive part of owning a pet and don’t let this temporary loss from preventing you from opening your heart and your home up to another in the distant future. They bring us so much joy, which is why we develop such a strong attachment to them.
How to Make the Loss of a Pet Easier
Some positive things you can do to help the healing process and to commemorate your pet’s life include:
- take photographs with your pet before the euthanasia where possible
- have a painting done of your pet to hang on the wall
- get their paw print in clay
- give your pet a treat they don’t normally have on the day of their euthanasia
- we can save a lock of your pets hair as a keepsake
- we can take a paw print for you to keep
- plant a tree in memory of your pet
- have your pet cremated and returned in a decorative urn – see more info here
- have your pet cremated with their favourite collar, teddy or blanket.
- incorporate some of your pet’s ashes in a decorative keepsake such as a spun glass globe or jewelery
- scatter their ashes in their favourite place
- elect to have your pet buried at Lawnswood Crematorium’s pet cemetery where you can visit them any day of the year
- hold a memorial service
- hold a candle lighting ceremony
- have a garden plaque made with their name and dates on it
Home Pet Euthanasia Costs
Euthanasia Dog 0-9kg
Euthanasia Dog 10-24kg
Euthanasia Dog 25 - 39kg
Euthanasia Dog Over 40kg
Euthanasia Small Animal (Rabbit etc)
Schedule a Pet Euthanasia at Home
Sometimes its difficult to talk about this topic over the phone because of the emotion involved. That’s why we’ve made it a little easier by creating an online booking app so you can see our schedule and pick a time and day that suits you best.
If you are having your pet cremated and wish to purchase a special urn, please see this page. The scheduler won’t let you choose a specific urn, but you can let the vet know of your choice at the time of the appointment. The vet can also take any extra payment for these as well.
If in doubt, or you have a query, please don’t hesitate to contact us or use our live chat feature to the left of the page.
Hear From Other Pet Owners
How much does it cost to euthanize a pet?
Pet euthanasia is usually based on weight and can range from $250 for a pet under 10kg, to $355 or more for a pet over 40kg.
Is pet euthanasia painful?
The pet euthanasia injection is a bit like an anaesthetic overdose so there is no pain involved. A pet drifts from consciousness, to unconsciousness to passing. Most vets will also give a pre-euthanasia sedative to make sure the pet is as peaceful as possible.
How long does it take to euthanize a pet?
A pre-euthanasia sedative is usually given under the skin which takes 2-10 minutes for your pet to be fully relaxed. After this the final injection is given in a vein, usually in the front leg. This is quick acting, and pet’s normally pass peacefully within 30 seconds on average.
How do I know when it’s time to euthanize my dog?
When it is not possible for them to maintain a good quality of life. For instance, untreatable disease, invasive cancer, protracted vomiting, not eating, difficulty walking or severe trauma. Humane euthanasia may also need to be considered when financial limitations prohibit treatment when no suitable alternative can be found. If in doubt, speak to your veterinarian.
What to do with dogs after they are put down?
Many people will have their pet cremated and ashes returned in a memorial urn or wooden box for safe keeping. Others prefer to bury their pets in their yard. If neither of these is an option, many crematoriums offer group cremation and disposal of ashes. This represents a low cost, yet environmentally friendly, solution to disposal of pet remains in a respectable manner.
What drug is used for pet euthanasia?
Besides the initial sedative medication, the euthanasia solution contains a drug call pentobarbital. This causes a very minimal discomfort for your pet (aside from the initial needle being inserted into the skin).
It affects the central nervous system first so that your pet lapses into unconsciousness, followed by anaesthesia (and the absence of any pain), followed by stopping breathing and cardiac function.
It’s a kind solution that thankfully veterinary medicine can afford to pet’s in pain or with a terminal illness.